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from jw:
The value of work in the eyes of Chazal
In certain circles today, the word work is a 4 letter word. However, if we look at Chazal we see that Chazal actually believed the opposite, that in fact Chazal thought work was very important and valuable.

In last weeks Parsha (יתרו), we have the ten commandments with one of them being the commandment to observe Shabbos. However, before commanding us to keep Shabbos the Torah states “ששת ימים תעבוד ועשית כל מלאכתיך”. On this pasuk there are many derashos of Chazal on the positive value of work. The תורה שלימה at the end of יתרו has 2 essays on this point and all of the sources below are taken from there.
Work as a Mitzva
There are a number of sources in Chazal that state that not only is work a positive value, but it is a mitzvah.
1. Source: במכילתא דרשב״י
ששת ימים תעבד רבי אומר הרי זו גזרה אחרת שכשם שנצטוו ישראל על מצות עשה של שבת כך נצטוו על מלאכה
Six days you should work, Rebbi says this is another gezera that just like the Jewish people were commanded as a positive commandment to keep Shabbos, so too they were commanded to work [on the other 6 days].
2. Source: ובאבות דר״נ נו״ב פכ״א
רבי אליעזר אומר גדולה היא מלאכה שכשם שנצטוו ישראל על השבת כך נצטוו על המלאכה שנאמר ששת ימים תעבוד ועשית כל מלאכתך
Rabbi Eliezer said work is a very good thing because just like the Jewish people were commanded to keep Shabbos, so too they were commanded to work as the pasuk says 6 days you should work

R’ Kasher explains the source for saying that work is a mitzvah as follows:

ונראה שיסוד של הדרשות הנ״ל הוא משום שהתורה הזכירה שמנה פעמים במצות שמירת שבת עשיית מלאכה בששת ימים וצריך להבין מה רצתה התורה לומר בזו- הרי בעיקר באה להזהירנו על שמירת שבת, ולמה הדגישה בכל פעם עשיית המלאכה בששת ימים. מזה למדו רבי ור״א שהתורה צוותה בפסוקים אלה על המלאכה בששת הימים ואין זה רשות גרידא. אלא כשאדם הולך בטל ואינו עושה כלום מבטל מצות התורה של ששת ימים תעבד

It seems that the reason behind these derashos is that the Torah mentions 8 times when discussing the mitzvah of Shabbos doing work on the other six days. We have to understand what is the Torah telling us? The main point the Torah is coming to tell us is to warn us to keep Shabbos and therefore why does the Torah emphasise every time the idea of doing work on the other 6 days. From this Rebbi and R’ Eliezer learned that the Torah is commanding us to work on these 6 days and it is not optional, rather if a person sits and does nothing he is not fulfilling the mitzvah of working 6 days.
Work as a positive value
R’ Kasher then brings a whole set of statements of Chazal about the positive value of work. What is fascinating is that he only quotes the more obscure ones, the others he doesn’t quote because as he says “כי ידועים הם”, everyone know them.
Sources: ממכילתא דרשב׳׳י שם מאבות דר׳ נתן נו״ב, ממשנת דבי אליעזר

Edited for length – please break up extra long posts. Thanks! -33